CCIM Feature

Rising Stars(1)

Diverse backgrounds and skills help launch these CCIMs

Success can be achieved in many different ways. These CCIMs use diverse strategies and strengths to reach for excellence in commercial real estate. CIRE recognizes these individuals for their drive, determination, and industry achievements. Using their unique abilities, each of these CCIMs has what it takes to light up commercial real estate.

Richard A. Brugge, CCIM
Associate Director
Capital Markets Group
Cushman & Wakefield
Tampa, Fla.

After an 11-year sales and operations career at Procter & Gamble, Brugge enrolled in the CCIM Institute’s CI 101 class to find out if commercial real estate would be a smart career move. “The class really whetted my appetite for more knowledge and understanding. Taking the class opened my eyes to different possibilities and showed me that the complex nature of real estate creates an opportunity for disproportionate rewards for those who master it,” he says.

Earning the designation in 2006, Brugge completed Tampa’s largest industrial transaction in nearly a decade by selling a 1 million-square-foot former Winn-Dixie distribution center. This complicated transaction involved converting a single-tenant user property into a multitenant investment property, proving to investors that demand existed for large blocks of industrial space in the relatively small Sarasota, Fla., market.

Analyzing the potential return on investment after factoring in leasing, tenant improvements, and carrying costs was critical. Brugge was able to complete this transaction using market- and investment-analysis skills learned in his CCIM education. “CCIM helped me from a knowledge stand-point,” says Brugge, who completed more than $100 million in transactions in his first 2.5 years in the industry.

Danny Q. Nguyen, CCIM
RE/MAX Centralwest Commercial

Shortly after earning his designation, Nguyen formed the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce in Houston “to bridge the cultural gap between the mainstream and Vietnamese communities,” he says. His 10 years of commercial real estate experience have helped him to realize that his “transactions would go more smoothly if clients understood each other” both verbally and through business etiquette and culture. Since starting the VACC, Nguyen not only has helped to build a stronger Vietnamese community, but has closed several deals as a result of this networking opportunity.

Nguyen also would like to initiate a CCIM chapter in his home country of Vietnam “to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit that has brought so much independence to so many people in other countries,” he says. He plans to spread the “knowledge, experience, and technology” in his native country on a trade mission this summer.

Nguyen is confident that the institute is a good vehicle to accomplish his commercial real estate goals, and he promotes the institute when speaking to universities and colleges about commercial real estate career options. “I tell them the secret is to get the best training possible in your field.”

Susan Clift Brown, CCIM
Clift Commercial LLC
Southern Pines, N.C.

Clift Brown moved to the Sandhills of North Carolina several years ago. “Although the market was in its infancy, I saw its growth potential,” she says.

Since no commercial real estate company existed in the area, Clift Brown decided to start her own business, something she had done twice before. Currently, her company has nine employees and serves historic Southern Pines, Pinehurst, and all of Moore County, N.C.

“In a small market such as ours, you have to be a one-stop shop to accommodate your customers,” Clift Brown explains, citing restrictive zoning as a challenge. Referring to a recent $15 million transaction involving the Little River Golf Club in Carthage, N.C.: “With a very tight due diligence and closing date, I moved the project through the appropriate entitlements and accomplished a complete rezoning and approval for the more than 600-acre development with a 120-day closing,” she says.

Clift Brown markets properties on nine Web sites, as well as using radio, newspaper, and billboard advertising. “With just 82,000 residents, national developers can easily overlook the area, often described as a hidden jewel.” But the 1999 and 2000 U.S. Open Golf Tournaments brought increased visibility to Clift Brown’s market and more sophisticated business opportunities: “Investment analysis is where the future lies,” she says.

Colin W. Kraay, CCIMInvestment Adviser
Grubb & Ellis Paramount Commerce
Grand Rapids, Mich.

“Living in a tertiary midwestern community has presented me with a variety of opportunities over the last three years,” says Kraay, who specializes in cash flow producing properties. “We first have to help investors get over their perceptions of the western Michigan area, historically a manufacturing-based region,” he says.

Today western Michigan is a diverse, vibrant, and unique market with strong growth potential in biosciences, medical manufacturing, and healthcare. Kraay stresses his market’s lack of capitalization rate compression, keeping values in line with replacement costs. As investment services team leader, he has increased year-over-year sales for the last three years and has been involved in more than $140 million in transactions since 2004.

Teaming and specialization are Kraay’s core strategies. He has presented a western Michigan forecast to more than 300 industry professionals for the past two years. He also teams up with other CCIMs who specialize in diverse industry niches. Currently Kraay is working on a large industrial portfolio with three other CCIMs. “Each team member brings his own skill set and knowledge to the project. By creating a team of this nature we have ensured our client receives the best people for each aspect of the project,” he says.

Krista H. Vannoy, CCIM
Waldvogel Commercial Properties
Roanoke, Va.

Drawing on her experience in downtown development and her CCIM education, Vannoy and her team have represented “most of the developers of downtown Roanoke’s early residential and mixed-use redevelopment projects,” including the sales and marketing of the city’s first two projects, which contain 32 residential and commercial condos. Vannoy was involved in the projects’ every step and worked closely with the city’s economic development department to analyze development and employment activity and other local factors to determine the depth of the overall market. “Urban living is a new concept to our area, and it has been extremely important to identify target markets and to understand how to reach and appeal to those markets,” she says. Vannoy has influenced the development of five major mixed-use projects in the past 24 months.

Describing what she does as “historic preservation marrying economic development,” Vannoy believes that many older buildings have architectural features that should be preserved and appreciated. “Being part of such transformations instills great pride in me,” she says.

Charles C. Connely IV, CCIM
General Manager/Vice President
Butler Real Estate
Kansas City, Mo.

“I have found over the years that the more you give to an organization, the more you get out of it, both from a personal and business perspective,” Connely says. As a 2006 graduate of the Jay W. Levine Leadership Development Academy, Connely adds national involvement to his résumé of CCIM Institute leadership.

Connely has chaired several committees in the Kansas City CCIM Chapter; he currently serves on the board of directors and also is the membership chairman. Nationally, he is vice chairman of the audit committee, serves on the budget committee, and was elected treasurer for 2008. “I want to be challenged intellectually, but I also want to affiliate with a solid business platform that can help me grow my business. The institute gives me the opportunity to accomplish both of these goals,” he says.

Since joining Butler in 2001, Connely has facilitated the sale of approximately $74 million of commercial properties and has received the Kansas City CCIM Chapter Home Run award and the CCIM Partners Retail Lease Transaction of the Year award. The latter transaction was developed with another CCIM chapter board member: “What better way to get to know leadership and management skills than to see a CCIM take on challenging roles at the local, regional, or national levels,” he says.

Kevin B. McGowan, CCIM
Thornton Oliver Keller Commercial Real Estate
Boise, Idaho

McGowan left behind a nine-year career on Wall Street for a fresh start in commercial real estate in Boise, Idaho. Intrigued by the state’s natural beauty and growing economy, McGowan took his basic knowledge of the industry — his father had been a broker 30 years ago — and worked hard to establish a name for himself. Scheduling seven or eight meetings a day, he spoke with various community members and built a network of local professionals. “I bought a lot of lunches just to hear what people had to say. If I heard about someone who sounded interesting, I would call them and meet them — sometimes with, but mostly without, a referral,” he says.

He also “took title records and built spreadsheets by cold calling landowners” and drove more than 6,000 miles to visit all the properties in his company’s database. “My knowledge today is very solid because I have asked just about every question,” he says. He values the CCIM analysis skills he learned while earning the designation. “Back-of-the-envelope math only goes so far in a world of rising land prices and increasing construction costs,” he says.

McGowan has focused primarily on the industrial sector, completing around 40 transactions in 2006, but hopes to learn more about development and investment sales “to capitalize on Boise’s transition to institutional ownership of some of our larger assets.”

Randy Ross, CCIM
Senior Associate
Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT
Salt Lake City

Strong negotiating skills, persistence, constant follow-up, and keen attention to detail helped Ross convince a skeptical client that a sale-leaseback transaction might add value. “Utilizing the skills learned in the CCIM courses, I was able to confidently present the owner’s options in a clear and concise manner to simplify the decision process,” he says.

For four years, Ross kept in touch with this client, eventually approaching him about the sale-leaseback of the Sansegal Sportswear property. With his client’s interest sparked, Ross prepared a financial analysis presentation comparing a sale-leaseback with a hold-and-use strategy. Based on Ross’ comprehensive market strategy, the client decided to list the property at $4.6 million. Within six weeks, Ross had five competitive offers, eventually accepting one for $100,000 above the list price and closing within four months. “My client didn’t believe the property would sell above $4 million, let alone $4.7 million. You can imagine his surprise at the final outcome,” he says.

Ross is a member of the Coldwell Banker Circle of Distinction, representing the top 5 percent of agents worldwide. The return on his CCIM investment was “fast and dramatic,” he says, increasing his sales by 66 percent the first year.

Jack M. Lynch, CCIMVice President
Coldwell Banker Commercial Scalzo Group
Bethel, Conn.

Having a CCIM mentor helped Lynch complete his institute education, and after receiving his designation, Lynch wanted to “share [his knowledge] with fellow chapter members who were struggling with the requirements.” In 2005, Lynch and the Connecticut CCIM Chapter hosted a mentoring event, which matched candidates with designees who wanted to provide assistance. The successful program encouraged candidates to continue and engaged designees who previously were less active in the chapter, Lynch explains.

Lynch also reaches out to professionals in his market by inviting them to attend the chapter’s five annual networking events. This fall Lynch’s chapter will join with the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors and New York state real estate organizations for an afternoon at Yankee Stadium to help raise designation awareness among colleagues, clients, and allied professionals.

With out-of-state CCIMs seeking him out for East Coast properties and information, Lynch has been responsible for more than $25 million in transactions, including a seven-building portfolio in downtown Torrington, Conn.

In October Lynch will become chapter president. “My goals are to receive greater participation from designees, continue mentoring, and make sure that everyone knows that having the pin can help them achieve bigger and better deals.”

Bruce A. Haulley, CCIM
Senior Vice President
GVA IPC Commercial Real Estate
Shanghai, China

Haulley developed a passion for international business after several trips to Cambodia, including one that resulted in writing a report about a land dispute. “My trips initially were for leisure, but several themes grabbed my interest. I love the urban design of Asian cities. I also marveled at the economic energy of Asian culture on a personal and social level,” he says.

In November 2006, Haulley went to Cambodia to carry out a project for STAR Kampuchea, a non-governmental organization that was seeking a writer to report on a land dispute involving “effective, non-violent resistance to powerful business interests by the uneducated, rural poor,” he explains. “My CCIM skills were valuable to the report,” which was used by universities, he says. “The NGO has a basically non-business approach to social issues, but I suggested several aspects of the case study that drew upon Western concepts of business and analysis.”

While in Cambodia, Haulley learned that large oil resources recently were discovered off the coast that soon would create commercial real estate opportunities in the country’s only port city of Sihanoukville.

Through this trip Haulley realized the benefits of expanding business internationally, and he hopes to eventually “have a better theoretical understanding of the value of commercial real estate and the global economy.” He recently moved to Shanghai, China, to learn the culture and language and make business contacts for real estate development. “The next 10 years of economic history will be written in the relationship between China and the U.S.,” he says.

Stephanie Bell

“I went through the [recession in the] 1980s and purposely set out a market plan that would not have the boom-and-bust [nature] that comes with real estate cycles.” — Joe W. Milkes, CCIM, Milkes Realty Valuation, Dallas“We were anticipating a slowdown in the market and wanted to develop an avenue of business that would create a steady stream of income.” — Yvonne Jones, CCIM, CPM, Zifkin Realty Management LLC, Chicago“I help struggling companies rethink their business models, which includes determining the most profitable use of their real estate.” — Audie Cashion, CCIM, Alpha World Properties LLC, High Point, N.C.Stephanie Bell is associate editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate.


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